Friday, September 4, 2009

[Thank You] Don't Wonder "What If?"

Vale Jenny Petterson - picasaweb - A Pocketful of Sequins - PD's Tribute

Joanne and I sent the following message to the Australian Dragon Boat Team on 18 Aug 2009, a few days before we left to participate for Australia at the IDBF World Dragon Boat Championships held in Prague in late Aug 2009. It is now history - an amazing experience for all of us, particular for Joanne and myself.

We just wanted to say thank you to everyone for helping us to celebrate Jenny's Life, and for your kind words and support for Joanne and I over the course of this campaign.

We also thank everyone for the lovely "Name-A-Star" gift that Amanda presented to us, on your behalf, at the 2nd Team Trial at Penrith. We have attached a copy of the documentation that came with the Sydney Observatory "Name-A-Star" catalogue. The star selected is in the constellation of Vela and has been named "In Memory of Jenny Petterson". As part of the gift, we will view the star at the Observatory on Jenny's and Joanne's Birthday, the 24th March 2010.

Jenny was an amazing person and she showed us all how to live life to full, even in the face of a life threatening illness such as advanced breast cancer, something she lived with for 12 years.

Paddling has become a constant in our lives and the irony is that we would not have found it, if Jenny did not have her cancer. Jenny would often say "what would we be doing if we did not start paddling?". We have travelled this state, country and the world as paddlers and wherever we have travelled we have met friendly likeminded people, no matter their culture or background. We feel we are better people because of our paddling experiences.

Jenny's life changed in 2004 when she nervously, yet humbly, co-featured in an episode of the ABC's "Australian Story" titled "In the Pink"

The episode was watched by more than 1 million people and helped expose Dragons Abreast Australia to many women. It told the true story of breast cancer and it did not shy away from the harsh realities of breast cancer. From then on wherever Jenny travelled, she would be "pulled up" by people in the street or at regatta's so they could talk to her about how the Aus Story Episode helped them to make positive changes to their life.

Following the airing of In the Pink episode, Jenny would often be asked to give a talk to various groups of people. She also became a speaker for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The last talk she gave was on the 1 April 2009 at the Riverview School in Lane Cove. The talk was given to approximately 200 Year 9 and 10 boys. They were mesmerised and inspired by her story of hope, courage and strength. She was also touched by the fact that the guest speaker they had a month earlier was Dr Chris O'Brien (of RPA Fame), a person she felt quite connected with. He made sense to her through his own public journey with cancer.

A copy of Jenny's Riverview Talk is now kindly hosted on the Dragons Abreast Australia Web site. It tells her (and indeed our story) in her own words with the last few pages giving an insight into her approach to life, and how she embraced her cancer and through it, felt empowered to live a wonderful and fulfilling life. The cancer helped to reveal her true inner spirit and character that she was born with.

Initially, unknowingly, and then later, humbly, she helped to inspire many people throughout Australia and the World to follow their hearts and achieve their dreams.

It was an amazing effort for Jenny to make the NSW State and Australian Teams this year. She was diagnosed with multiple tumors in her liver in early March and started a fortnightly cycle of chemotherapy and another drug. Through the encouragement of her "Support Team", she trained and paddled through all of her treatment and went on to paddle for her State and Club at the 2009 Nationals DB Championships at Kawana. It was with tears in my eyes that I witnessed Jenny, along with her team mates, paddle to Gold Medals in both 500m finals for her State and Club. The most amazing thing I have ever seen.

Finally, Jenny, Joanne and myself visited Prague in September 2005 after the World DB Championships held in Berlin. It is a beautiful City. Little did we know then that we would have the opportunity to compete for our country there in 2009. Jenny was selected in the Australian Team and was training up until early June. Joanne and I will now compete in Prague, with Jenny as our guiding light and inspiration.

Death may end a life, but our relationship will continue forever.

I have included a couple of photos from our trip to Prague in 2005 in our online photo album.

Don't wonder "What if?" -

With Thanks and Kindest Regards .. Geoff and Joanne

[ Jenny Petterson - Don't Wonder "What If?" ]

Our Guiding Light and Inspiration ..

Jenny with Geoff and Joanne's IDBF World Championship 500m Mixed Gold Medals (Hotel Duo, Prague - Sat 29 Aug 2009).

Our Guiding Light and Inspiration.

[ Jenny Petterson - Don't Wonder "What If?" ]